Netflix product chief: 'HDR is more visibly different than 4K'

Giving a clear indication of the shift occurring in the evolution of display technology, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said high dynamic range (HDR) is now a greater industry priority than 4K.

"I think HDR is more visibly different than 4K," Hunt told Digital Trends. "Over the past 15 years, we have had plenty of increments of pixels on the screen, and from what we saw with digital cameras, pixel count eventually stopped being interesting."

HDR has largely been viewed as a complementary technology to the older, far more promoted 4K/UltraHD standard. Hunt, however, views HDR as the more important display technology.

"In the real world, you have 14 bits of brightness difference, so imagine stepping outside to look at a reflection of water or shadow of a tree that's between 12 and 14-bits of range," he said. "TV only represents 8 bits, so you lose one or the other; you can't have the brights and the darks at the same time."

After debuting limited 4K services more than a year ago, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and DirecTV (NYSE: T) have done little to date to expand these offerings and promote them. However, Comcast plans to release HDR-capable versions of its X1 set-top box later this year. It believes that will spark the market for next-generation display technologies. 

"If you've seen side-by-side comparisons of current-market [4K] TVs and next-generation TVs [with HDR], you can see the difference," said Scott Boyarsky, Comcast's VP of product development and planning, at a CES panel last month. "There really hasn't been a compelling reason to take a 60-inch HD TV that's hanging on the wall and replace it with a 4K set."

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